WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - July 24, 2019
In this week's Intersect, read about:
Hong Kong Protests Grow Violent as Masked Assailants Attack Demonstrators, Passengers at Subway Station
Dozens of people were injured at a subway station in Hong Kong on Sunday when a mob of masked assailants attacked protesters and passengers in a dramatic escalation of violence amid ongoing protests in the Chinese territory. The sudden assault came after police fired tear gas at those who failed to disband after a massive march by demonstrators still fighting a proposed extradition bill and calling for electoral reforms in Hong Kong. Dozens of men stormed the Yuen Long MTR station around midnight, forcing open closed entrances before hurling objects and assaulting protesters, in addition to passengers, at the subway station. Democratic lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting told Reuters the men appeared to target black-shirted passengers who had been at an anti-government march. Lam, who was wounded in the face and hospitalized, told the news agency police officers on the scene ignored his pleas to step in and help stop the attacks. “They deliberately turned a blind eye to these attacks by triads on regular citizens,” he told Reuters, saying the floors of the station were streaked with blood. “I won’t speculate on why they didn’t help immediately." read more
Six weeks ago, protests in Hong Kong centered on a law that would allow extradition to mainland China. Today protesters have broadened their agenda, pursuing an array of political and social grievances. For example, nearly 1 in 5 people live in poverty. Hong Kong boasts the longest working hours in the world and the world’s highest rents. Over 250,000 people are waiting for access to public housing. Protest organizers said 430,000 people participated in the Sunday March and police estimate there were 138,000 protesters. After the march, many of the protesters went to the Liaison Office, which represents China’s Communist Party-led central government. Some protesters threw eggs at the building and spray-painted its surrounding surveillance cameras. Resistance is as old as the biblical narrative and as current as today’s headlines. Saul’s men tried to squelch David. Sanballat and Tobiah attempted to stop Nehemiah. And then there was Saul of Tarsus breathing out threats. Violence can hinder momentum, but it cannot thwart a righteous movement. As Elizabeth Wilberforce noted: “If it be a work of grace, you know it cannot fail.” (1 Samuel 19, Nehemiah 2, Acts 9:1).
Spend time today in prayer for the people of Hong Kong. Only an estimated ten percent of Hong Kong residents identify as Christians. Pray for them to come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, and pray for them to exercise wisdom as they seek to make their voices heard.
Thousands of Christians have participated in the extradition protests over the weeks. Some video footage from the protests reveal many have adopted the song “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” as an anthem for their marches. Take a few minutes to read more about what the mainstream media has mostly ignored.
State Department Hosts Largest Religious Freedom Summit in World History; Survivors Testify
The U.S. State Department hosted its second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, a three-day summit being touted as the largest religious freedom event ever held. Featuring remarks from survivors of some of the most recent religious-based massacres, around 1,000 global civil society and political leaders gathered in the Harry S. Truman Building for a week filled with testimonies, relationship building and dialogue about strengthening religious freedom worldwide. “Much effort has been put into making this a very special week,” U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback said during his introductory remarks. “This is the largest human rights event ever hosted at the State Department and the largest religious freedom event ever done in the world. I hope you can sense and feel the importance of this moment in time. A global human rights movement centered on religious freedom is being launched from this meeting.” At a time in which 80 percent of the world lives in a place where religious freedom is restricted, the Trump administration has made it a priority to advocate for religious freedom abroad. Although Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world today, religious-based attacks are impacting people of all faiths. read more
Cuba was one nation not represented at the summit because the government blocked Christians from even leaving the country. Two of the nation’s Christian faith leaders, Rev. Moises de Prada Esquivel and Rev. Alida Leon Baez, were prohibited from boarding their flight to Washington D.C. for the event. While many gathered to discuss how to advance religious liberty, others around the world were refused the right to even participate in the conversation. Religious persecution and oppression is a reality for millions of people across the globe. Shaan Taseer, the son of Punjab governor Salmaan Tasseer who was shot dead in 2011 for speaking out in support of Asia Bibi, gave a moving speech at the summit. Asia Bibi was falsely imprisoned in Pakistan on blasphemy charges and later acquitted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court. Taseer left a challenge to the audience, “As we celebrate these victories, we must be mindful of the challenges ahead. While Asia Bibi — the world’s most famous prisoner victim of blasphemy is a free woman — I want you all to know that there are 200 Asia Bibis in jail accused of blasphemy law in Pakistan today and these are only the reported cases.” Vice President Pence spoke stating, “We’re gathered here, 106 nations strong, because we believe in the freedom of conscience—the right of all people to live out their lives according to their deeply held religious beliefs.” My Faith Votes was honored to have our Chairman, Sealy Yates, in attendance at this historic and important summit. On reflection of his attendance, Sealy said “I have been reminded as I spent much of the week here in Washington that every election is absolutely important, more important than the last one. May God grant us at MFV the wisdom, the stamina, the resources, new friends and the commitment to stay the course over the next 15 months to do the “something” that we each know He has called us to contribute toward the future of our country and the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth!.” As Christians, we must remember to stand up and speak out on behalf of all the persecuted and the voiceless across the world (Proverbs 31:8-10).
Pray daily for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are experiencing persecution for their faith. Ask God to sustain them with continued courage and for their witness to bring others to seek and follow after Him.
Take a few minutes today to read about 13 persecuted Christians who shared their stories at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. We must stay informed on what is happening so that we are equipped to pray specifically for their needs (Hebrews 13:3).
Planned Parenthood Fires CEO Leana Wen After 10 Months, Wants More Aggressive Pro-Abortion Leader
Planned Parenthood abortion business CEO Leanna Wen has been fired after just ten months on the job. The abortion corporation wants a more aggressively pro-abortion activist as its leader as it heads into the crucial 2020 presidential election. According to the New York Times, the Planned Parenthood board engaged in “hours of negotiations” and ultimately canned Wen, citing the need for a “more aggressive political leader.” Alexis McGill Johnson has been named as interim president of its political arm Planned Parenthood Action Fund. In a statement, Wen says she is leaving the nation’s biggest abortion company because she says it’s too political and not focused enough on healthcare. The decision is somewhat surprising given that the Planned Parenthood abortion business has been doing everything possible to try to make itself appear as a legitimate healthcare organization as opposed to a political abortion corporation in bed with Democrats. read more
Dr. Wen tweeted, “I just learned that the @PPFA Board ended my employment at a secret meeting. We were engaged in good faith negotiations about my departure based on philosophical differences over the direction and future of Planned Parenthood. My statement to come shortly.” And Abby Johnson replied to Dr. Wen on twitter writing, “Leana, I know exactly how Planned Parenthood works and know ALL about their secret meetings. If you ever want to talk about your experience (in complete confidence), I’m here. I will help in any way I can through your transition.” Abby Johnson is encouraging pro-lifers to “reach out to Dr. Leana Wen in love. Snarky memes & words will not bring about conversion. Let us also remember that she is a woman grieving the loss of a miscarried child. Let us treat her with care, not callousness. Let’s be the people we say we are.” Also in the past week, 70 leftist groups have released their 114-page blueprint for legalizing abortions up to birth. Their goal is to promote abortion anywhere, anytime, for anyone - at any cost. No longer are abortions being discussed as “safe, legal, and rare.” The leading abortion company in the nation continues to make clear that their goal is not healthcare; it’s higher abortion numbers. Despite this negative news, there is a positive pro-life development worth highlighting. An Oklahoma state judge upheld the state’s ban on late-term dismemberment abortion procedures. This is the first time a judge has reviewed such a case and not overturned it. We must remember as we stand for life that we do not battle against pro-abortion people or companies, but against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).
Pray for Dr. Leanna Wen and that her eyes would be opened to see the truth of abortion. No one is beyond God’s reach. Pray that she will seek Jesus, find His grace, and become an unwavering advocate for life.
Christians prayed for Abby Johnson for years before she had a change of heart. We cannot underestimate the power of prayer. Take a few minutes to learn the name of the Planned Parenthood or abortion clinic director in your town or city and start praying for him or her by name.
David Jeremiah Warns Modern Church is Entertainment-Driven Social Organization Afraid of Controversy
Many U.S. churches today have “forgotten” their purpose, becoming entertainment-driven social organizations eager to blend in with secular culture instead of focusing on biblical discipleship, Pastor David Jeremiah warned. “The Church is coming under attack; it’s forgotten what the Church is supposed to be,” Jeremiah, founder of Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries, told The Christian Post. “We’re not an entertainment service; we’re not here to see how close we can get to what the world does. But there’s so much of the world in the Church and vice versa that we can’t tell a difference. We have to hold to the truth. We have to get nourished. If it’s not happening, you’re a social organization and not a church,” said Jeremiah. “There’s an incredible motivation on the part of everyone to be successful, and a lot of times people program their churches to see how many people will sit in the pews on Sunday,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with getting people there, as long as you share the Gospel. But there’s no glory in just a number.” read more
If you stripped away the nice equipment, music, air conditioning, all your friends, would you still show up to hear God’s word? Jeremiah’s statement sadly rings true that churches today are prone to entertain rather than share the Gospel and disciple people. Church membership over the past two decades has been on the decline. Today, only half of Americans are church members, which is down from the 70 percent in 1999. While there is a massive motivation behind success and getting people in the pews, big numbers don’t spread the Gospel. Statistics for the youngest generation indicate that entertainment-driven churches may be losing their appeal altogether. Pastor Jeremiah points out that Millennials and Generation Z are actually more drawn to a “classic” church over a “trendy” church according to research from the George Barna Group and the Cornerstone Knowledge Network. Christians should remember Charles Spurgeon’s words on the matter, “Within suitable bounds, recreation is necessary and profitable; but it never was the business of the Christian Church to supply the world with amusements.”
Pray today for your church and the local churches in your community. Pray for them to stay focused on the Gospel, discipleship, and avoid the pitfalls of becoming entertainment-driven churches (Philippians 3:15-21).
Theologian Charles Spurgeon warned of the dangers of an entertainment-driven church. Take a few minutes to read this interesting article highlighting three things Spurgeon saw in his day that mirror the church culture we are now experiencing.
My Faith Votes—is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square.